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Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on DCJ clients

  1. What is the DCJ COVID-19 Client Survey?
  2. Who is included in the survey?
  3. Do clients have to participate?
  4. What information is being collected?
  5. How long does the survey take?
  6. Can participants be identified?
  7. What are the benefits and risks to participants?
  8. What if participants feel anxious or stressed when completing the survey?
  9. Will service providers have access to the data collected?
  10. What help do we need from service providers?
  11. Does the survey have ethics approval?

Questions and answers

1. What is the DCJ COVID-19 Client Survey?

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is conducting this survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on its clients.

The survey aims to collect information on:

  • financial stress and mental health and wellbeing
  • changes in clients’ needs and use of DCJ and community services
  • the potential impact on the welfare of children and families in NSW.

This will help DCJ and service providers to understand how their clients have been impacted by COVID-19, to plan for changes in service demand and better meet clients’ needs.

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2. Who is included in the survey?

The survey population consists of:

  • Clients aged 18 years and over of Targeted Earlier Intervention (TEI) programs managed by service providers funded by DCJ.
  • DCJ and NGO managed carers of children and young people in out of-home care (OOHC) and carers of children on guardianship orders.

Note that the survey is not being distributed to all DCJ clients at this time. Consideration will be given to distributing the survey in future to other DCJ clients such as families who are in the child protection system, clients accessing victim services and clients of courts.

You are able to complete this survey if you:

  1. are aged 18 years and over and have received a service from a TEI service provider in the last 12 months.
  2. are a carer of a child or young person in OOHC (for example a foster carer, relative or kinship carer).
  3. are a carer of a child or young person on guardianship orders.

Surveys are being sent by email.

Service providers may be able to assist people who are from a non-English speaking background to complete this survey.

If you meet the criteria to complete the survey but did not receive an email with the survey link, it may be because DCJ or your service provider doesn’t have the right email address for you. You can receive a link by emailing survey@facs.nsw.gov.au.

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3. Do clients have to participate?

Participation in the survey is voluntary. Participants may withdraw their consent at any time and may choose not to answer particular questions.

A client’s decision to participate or not to participate will have no impact on the services they are receiving. No incentives will be offered to clients to participate.

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4. What information is being collected?

The survey asks about:

  • employment
  • wellbeing and mental health
  • support needs
  • financial situation
  • community resilience
  • demographic characteristics.

Partial responses (where a participant exits the survey early or chooses not to answer one or more questions) will be retained.

Metadata for incomplete or withdrawn surveys will also be recorded to monitor and improve the performance of the survey over time. This includes data on access and completion of the survey; for example, the time spent on the survey and the page a participant exits the survey from.

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5. How long does the survey take?

The survey will take about 5-15 minutes to complete. The participant can complete the survey in their own time using a device of their choosing.

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6. Can participants be identified?

The views of participants are strictly confidential and will be reported only as part of the general findings of the survey.

Participants will not be identified in the data or any results as survey responses will not be linked to contact details. The survey does not collect any identifying information such as name, address or date of birth.

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7. What are the benefits and risks to participants?

DCJ does not routinely collect data on the employment status of clients, or their mental health and wellbeing. Collecting this information via a client survey will help DCJ and service providers to better plan for changes in service demand and better meet clients' needs.

There are some questions about mental health and wellbeing which may trigger feelings of stress or anxiety. This is made clear in the survey introduction and contact information for a range of support services is also provided both at the beginning and end of the survey. In addition, if a participant selects the ‘exit’ button part-way through the survey, a dialogue box will appear reminding them of the support services available.

Examples of these questions include:

  • Thinking about your own life and personal circumstances, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole?
  • Since COVID-19 restrictions have been in place, how often do you feel lonely?
  • In the past 4 weeks, how often have you discussed feelings of distress with a doctor or other health professional?
  • In the last 12 months, was there any time you or anyone in your household ran out of food and did not have enough money to purchase more?
  • Has your household been unable to pay selected bills in the last 4 weeks?

Note that participants will NOT be identified in the data or any results as survey responses will not be linked to contact details. The survey is only collecting information on people’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not collect any identifying information such as name, address or date of birth, and responses will not impact the supports that participants receive.

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8. What if participants feel anxious or stressed when completing the survey?

When completing the survey, participants will be asked some questions about their mental health and wellbeing. These questions may trigger feelings of stress or anxiety. Participants should consider if completing the survey is good for their wellbeing.

If you choose to complete the survey, and you become anxious or stressed, please contact your local service provider or one of the following services:

Lifeline Australia13 11 14
Mental Health Line1800 011 511
Beyond Blue1300 224 636
1800Respect1800 737 732

If you are experiencing financial or housing distress, please contact one of the following services to find out what supports are available.

Service NSW13 77 88
Housing Contact Centre1800 422 322
Link2Home Homelessness1800 152 152

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9. Will service providers have access to the data collected?

The results of the survey will be shared with DCJ staff, service providers and other government agencies as appropriate. Only aggregated data will be used in reporting and individual participant data will not be included in any published report, publication or on social media. Where possible data will be provided at a District and provider level.

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10. What help do we need from service providers?

We are seeking service providers’ help in administering the survey by:

  • identifying eligible participants from their administrative data and clients they assist during the survey period
  • providing the survey link to their eligible clients. DCJ will email each service provider with this link
  • sending out a reminder one week before the survey closes
  • providing DCJ with a summary of their eligible clients’ characteristics (total numbers of clients by age, sex, Aboriginality, postcode and language spoken at home). This information will be used to understand the representativeness of the responses.

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11. Does the survey have ethics approval?

The Bellberry Human Research Ethics Committee has reviewed and approved this study in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) – incorporating all updates. This Statement has been developed to protect the interests of people who agree to participate in human research studies.

The survey has also been reviewed and approved by the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW.

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Last updated: 03 Mar 2021